Ushant, west of
Where: 48.457 -6.517 Ushant, west of
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Allen, Gardner Weld, A Naval History of the American Revolution, Vol.II. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913. Scanned by Google. Ocr'd to make full-text searchable by JR. P.327ff
The r e d l of the British ambassador from Franc8
in March, 1778, was followed by preparations for
war between the two nations. The French collected
a fleet at Brest under the command of the Comb
d'orvilliers and another at Toulon under the Comte
d'Estaing. The Brest fleet fought an indecisive
engagement off Ushant in July with the British
fleet of Admiral Keppel.
Allen, Joseph, Battles of the British Navy, Vol. I (1190-1799), London: Henry G. Bohn, 1852. Click on icon in u.r.h. corner to download pdf. P.324.
At daybreak on the 12th of December , a fleet, fifty
leagues to the southward of Ushant, of twelve sail of the
line, one 50-gun ship, and four frigates, under Rear-Admiral
Richard Kempenfelt, in the Victory, fell in with a French fleet
of twenty-one sail of the line (including five 110-gun ships)
and six frigates, commanded by Admiral Comte de Guichen.
Ignorant of the superior force of the enemy, Kempenfelt
ordered all sail to be made in chase. At 9h. P. M., the British
fleet, close hauled on the starboard tack, had neared the
enemy's fleet sufficiently to make out that it consisted of
large ships steering to the westward, about two points off
the wind. At 10h. 30m., the rear-admiral observed the
headmost ships to be forming a line, upon which he also
made the signal for a line of battle, but continued under a
heavy press of sail on the contrary tack to the enemy,
hoping to cut off part of the convoy. The 74-gun ship
Edgar, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore John
Elliot, led, and as she closed the rear of the French fleet,
the 80-gun ship Triomphant was observed crossing her bows.
In order to avoid a raking broadside, the Edgar kept away
a few points, and received the enemy's fire on her larboard
bow ; when luffing up, she poured her broadside into the
French ship, and shot away her main-yard and main-topmast.
Finding his ships too much separated, Kempenfelt tacked to
allow his sternmost ships to close before attempting to
renew action. At daylight the next morning, the enemy
was seen ahead, when, observing the disparity between the
two fleets, the rear-admiral contented himself with attacking
the convoy, fifteen sail of which, containing 1,062 soldiers
and 548 seamen, were captured. A heavy gale shortly
afterwards dispersed the French fleet and convoy, and drove
them back to France, five sail more of the convoy falling
into the hands of Captain Benjamin Caldwell, in the Agamemnon,
with the Prudente, Captain Hon. W. Waldegrave.